GROWTH FORM: evergreen shrub or small tree that grows to 36 feet (11 m), rounded crown has crooked branches and a tendency to form thickets. BARK: gray and smooth, becoming furrowed with age. TWIGS and BUDS: pubescent reddish-brown twigs; ovoid buds that narrow to a point, reddish-brown scales, sometimes with pubescent tan tufts at apex. LEAVES: very short smooth petiole to 1?4 inch (6 mm); leaves are narrow to broadly obovate, 5?8 - 2 inches (16 - 51 mm) long, 3?8 - 1 inch (10 - 25 mm) wide, base rounded, apex rounded or with a bristletipped tooth, thick and leathery, margins with edges turned under and occasionally wavy; shiny dark green above, light green beneath with axillary tomentum and some specimens have a yellowish scurfy bloom. ACORNS: biennial; 1 - 2 acorns on each peduncle, goblet-shaped, pubescent gray cup covering 1?4 - 1?3 of the nut, inner surface pubescent; nut almost round, 1?4 - 1?2 inch (6 - 13 mm) long, dark brown when mature. HABITAT: dry sandy ridges in mixed stands of yellow pines and dry-site hardwoods; usually the most abundant species in scrub oak forests of Q. incana, Q. laevis, Q. marilandica, Q. margaretta, Q. geminata, and Q. virginiana.
Myrtle oak is most abundant on islands off the coasts of Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida. The largest known specimen of myrtle oak grew in Fort Clinch State Park, Nassau County, Florida, until its recent death.
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